Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complex and obfuscated industry that has long left website owners and online marketers confused and perplexed. And for good reason. Much of what makes the organic algorithms tick has been purposely hidden from plain sight, disguised in delayed updates and shrouded penalties that have plagued many individuals for years.
While most people understand what SEO is, not many actually dedicate the time and resources to learning SEO the right way. And yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to learn SEO. The wrong way provides the basis for so-called Black-Hat hacks, shortcuts and “secrets” that end up backfiring. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But over time.
When an SEO strategy backfires, your listings drop on Google’s Search Results Pages (SERPs) like a ship’s anchor falling to the sea floor thousands of feet below. You plummet on the SERPs, moving out into the pages of oblivion, located amongst some tens of millions of listings behind the first page.
No one wants that…
In stark contrast, when you do SEO the right way, your status and your authority are elevated, helping you to climb the organic rankings, boosting your visibility over time. Not overnight. It takes persistence and it takes commitment. But when you know what you’re doing, it’s simply a matter of time and effort. I think sweat equity is the aptly appropriate word here.
So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what SEO is. In essence, it’s the set of principles, methods and techniques used to rank webpages organically on search engines like Google. Yes, I know we all know that. But, we also know that SEO is quite possibly one of the most frustrating fields to learn and understand.
The truth? SEO is a cross-disciplinary behemoth that involves a tremendous amount of work and effort before you can begin to see any results. And learning SEO the right way has become a challenge to most people because of the plethora of misinformation and disinformation out there.
Now, I will say one thing. The industry has changed vastly at the behest of Google, who’s sole aim it is to provide the most relevant search results on its SERPs, at the top. It wants to effectively answer your question in the best manner possible. It knows that’s what you want, and it wants to give it to you.
To get really good at SEO, you simply have to realize that if Google doesn’t trust you, you won’t appear visibly in its SERPs. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Rather than focusing on ways you can take shortcuts or cut corners, focus on building up that inherent trust between yourself and Google. That’s the proverbial secret to success with SEO.
However, building Google’s trust is a colossus of an undertaking. It’s not simple, nor is it straightforward, even in the slightest bit. Yet, it’s a requisite towards your potential for success. The more Google trusts you, the more likely you’ll be to appear relevantly on SERPs. And that’s the name of the game: relevancy.
Google’s sole aim and purpose is to deliver highly-relevant results amongst its various search engines, in the quickest manner possible. In fact, people rely so heavily on Google delivering the most relevant search results, that they rarely move past the first page of results.
Studies have confirmed that roughly 90% of web searchers never go past the first page of results, while over 50% click on the first two search results. If your listing is somewhere on the second page or beyond, chances of gaining that all-important attention is going to be seldom at best.
Earning Google’s Trust
Considering the importance of ranking high on Google, and the fact that you need to gain Google’s trust in oder to appear relevantly in organic searches, if you’re serious about really learning SEO the right way, then the first thing you need to do learn, digest and understand the search giant’s three core components of trust.
Let’s just imagine this for a moment…
You open up a new business and you walk into a bank branch to request a loan. You sit down with the bank manager, eager to convey why your business is such a great idea and why it would a prudent move on the bank’s part to lend you the money. You launch into your pitch and after 15 minutes of speaking, the branch manager looks uneasily at you.
You wonder, what’s the problem?
He tells you that your business sounds interesting, but as he furrows his brows, he asks for the past two to three years of financials. You stop for a moment, seemingly perplexed. You don’t have past financials, that’s why you need a loan. The bank manager says he needs to see your track record before the bank can extend you any sort of loan or line of credit.
Obviously, in the real world, we could put up a personal guarantee. We could personally co-sign a loan if our credit was good enough or provide collateral in the form of a house or a car or something else substantial enough to warrant a loan. But in the virtual world, we can’t do that. It’s not as simple as co-signing a loan.
Google’s trust is built over time. If you don’t have Google’s trust, understand that it’s going to be hard to come by. There is no form of blind trust that exists anymore. If you’re new or fairly new, the search giant is going to look at you with some element of suspect. It will analyze your every move, checking to see if you’re trying to bend or break the rules in any possible way.
Google’s Three Fundamental Pillars Of Trust
Overall, there are three high-level pillars to Google’s trust. It’s important understand what these are and how they’ll influence your potential to rank on any SERP. While there are over 200+ ranking factors that go into Google’s current algorithms, the basis of each of those factors can be neatly tucked away into each of these fundamental pillars.
#1 — Indexed Age
The indexed age of your domain is not the original date that you registered it; rather, what happened during the time that Google first indexed or found that domain. That’s incredibly important and the “age” factor has a monumental impact on a site’s ability to rank.
Consider any relationship. Trust can only be built over time. If Google is just finding out about you, how can you expect it to trust you implicitly? When you first enter into a relationship with someone, you don’t have blind trust; that simply doesn’t exist. Trust can only be built up over time.
What you do during the time that Google first found out about you, and the present moment, is incredibly important when it comes to whether or not Google trusts you and just how deep that trust runs. Not only is the indexed age important to the root domain, but also on the content level as well when it comes to freshness and evergreen content.
#2 — Authority
The second fundamental pillar of Google’s trust is authority. Some people think that authority is simply link popularity. It’s much more than that. Your authority develops as a factor of time through the curation of high-quality links from relevant content. Your authority also has to do with your reviews and just how interconnected you are with (real) followers and fans on social networks.
Your authority builds by creating really good content over time and sharing that content. The hopes are that other people will begin to share that content for you, and you’ll get a wide and diverse global IP diversification of relevant linking. Google not only wants to see quality links coming in from relevant content, it wants to see those links coming in from all over the world, not just from a few specific sites over and over.
It’s not simple and it’s not straightforward, and Google cares about things that you wouldn’t immediately consider such as the velocity of the links being created. Are the links being created too quickly? Are they unnatural links or spammy? Are the links genuine and increasing in volume month to month? It can be overwhelming at the best of times when you stop to think about everything that goes into creating authority.
#3 — Content
Content is king. It always has been and it always will be. Google is acutely concerned with the quality of your content. If you’re serious about learning SEO the right way, you have to get serious about writing high-quality prose that’s engaging, insightful, unique and well written.
Focus on doing the most amount of work for the least initial return. Build strong anchor content that resides on your website or blog, then go out there and content market it to oblivion using authority sites like Medium.com, Quora and LinkedIn Publishing, as just a few examples.
Creating high-quality content that’s also keyword-centric while written for humans rather than search engines is somewhat of an art form. You can’t try to spam the keywords and it needs to be organic and natural. This skill develops over time after doing this repeatedly enough. Just try not to overdo it.
Learning SEO The Right Way
I talk about learning the trade the right way because there is most certainly a wrong way to do things and a right way to do them. First and foremost, you cannot try to bend or break the rules or take any sort of shortcuts. You can’t use automated software systems to generate thousands of links or spin content or duplicate content or anything remotely close to those things.
You have to do the most amount of work for the least initial return. That’s how SEO works. That’s how you succeed in this field. Not by cutting corners. So if you’re thinking about ways you can supercharge your results, don’t look for so-called hacks because they don’t exist. You need to buckle down and do the work.
With that being said, there are ways to speed up and hasten your results. In fact, at the outset, I wish I had known about these strategies because I wouldn’t have kept spinning my wheels for months at a time. That being said, it’s important to pay homage to all of Google’s rules when doing anything remotely considered to be optimization work.
I’m not just talking about Google’s 200+ algorithm rules, which are largely obscured and up for educated guesses. I’m talking about Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for starters. Be sure to read and thoroughly digest everything you find in there because that information is gold and it’s coming directly from the mind of Google.
On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO
When it comes to enhancing your SEO education, it’s important to learn the distinction between what’s called On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO. On-Page SEO relates to any optimization done on the page itself. This includes things like content quality, keyword density, page speed, mobile-friendliness, overall link structure and so on.
Off-Page SEO (which is much harder by the way because it’s largely out of your control) relates to everything being done to optimize your site that happens away from your pages that are within your control. We’re talking about links that are generated, social media shares and so on.
It’s important to make this distinction in your SEO education, because you need to ensure that you’re engaging in both on-page and off-page optimization if you’re serious about ranking for some of the most competitive keywords. Each camp has a variety of efforts that are necessary to succeed in the macro picture.
Continuing Your Education
If you’re serious about learning SEO, you have to continue your education. I’ve written a number of audiobooks that can help you along in your journey or you could opt to take my SEO course. Either way, whether you continue your education through me or someone else, understand that SEO is a long journey and you’ll need to be always increasing your knowledge and skill set if you’re serious about long-term success.